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Sequoia Prayer


When I feel tiny, weak and trembling
Or pulled this way and that by swirls of change,
Too insignificant to be of service,
Too “uprooted” to hold my ground,
.     I pray my Sequoia prayer.

Sitting quietly, breathing normally, becoming centered in the present moment–
in this holy instant –
My mind’s eye gradually forms an image of a giant Sequoia.
My Sequoia prayer takes form in my heart and soul
As the image forms and fleshes out to fill my being.

Centuries-old roots so wide and deep they have become part of the earth.
Supporting enormous, gnarled trunk that soars into the sky,
Eternity wrinkles carved into its surface, holding character markings for the ages,
Thick, porous bark skin covering the body, letting the trunk breathe,
protecting it from the fires that must come to support its growth.
Green leaves gushing out the top, reaching to the heavens,
Nurturing birds and other beings, offering up limbs as if in prayer.

Awareness of God fills my soul.
Sequoia image fills my being.

.     Down into the Earth,
.     Deep into the Soul,
.     Strong into the body,

Breathing calmly. sitting quietly, praying trustingly, becoming
.     Grounded in humanity,
.     Rooted in God,
.     Striving ever upward,

My Sequoia prayer fills my cells, my lungs, my heart, my brain,
my soul, my being.

.     With love, grace and light.
.     With joy and hope.

.     With the strength of God I need to go on! Thank you, God!


~Dr. Monteen Lucas From Women’s Uncommon Prayers, an Episcopal Women’s Prayer Guide

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Supporting Change Through Friendship and Compassion

Glyness Hernandez

Today I honor present and past teachers, visionaries, activists and leaders who have dedicated their brilliance and gifts to creating a world that works for all, opening opportunities in subtle and bold ways for freedom, equality, justice and healing.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

At last year’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Rally I was walking with a first grader I worked with. Suddenly he looked up at me and said, “Oh, I know why you’re here today, Ashley.” “Why?” I asked, curious to discover the connection he had just made. “Because this is all about friendship… and you’re the friendship teacher.”

He taught me such a simple lesson in that moment – friendship is at the heart of the work we do and efforts we make towards creating a world where all people may flourish. Every child has the right to reach their full potential and feel loved. Friendship and friendliness are powerful forces that we use to support one another in living our full potentials. We can extend care and compassion, invite intimacy and connect with one another in nourishing ways that leave us feeling loved, respected, appreciated and capable of being the beautiful and potent forces we are.

Today I also want to thank the extraordinary people in my life who care for me, encourage me and have given me so much practical help in my pursuit to become a leader in transforming the United States’ Education System. I applied to Harvard’s new program in Education Leadership last week and have been astonishingly humbled by the generosity, encouragement, feedback, belief and care that has been bestowed upon me and this journey I am on. Thank you to each of you who gave of yourselves to support me. Words fail to carry the weight of my gratitude.

All the conversations I’ve had since stepping into the application process have fiercely enlivened my belief that we can do this. We can make a difference and organize ourselves into action, facilitating the change that is necessary so the dreams of Dr. King and so many other compassionately active forces may come to fruition. Through our friendships, our willingness to drop barriers and open vulnerably to genuine connections with one another, we can create transformative change. I am awed by the people that I know, the work that you are doing, the lives that you are living and the hearts that you continuously touch. I am awed by the human power, the power of love that swells forth upon this Earth and the impact it has in so many subtle and complex ways. And I am eager to meet, connect with and learn from those I have not yet met. I see this beautiful tapstery of connections. We are weaving together the social fabric that supports the well-being and actualization of children on this Earth.

Every child (every person) has the right to feel loved and respected and valued for their contributions. We can create opportunities for children to feel safe and stay connected to their intelligence, creativity and inspiration, as well as their neurological impulse to learn and love. We can affect the future of our world by investing in the livelihood and well-being of our children and the social systems that impact their lives.

“With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

This is the work I am called to do in service and in love. And I extend the deepest swells of gratitude to the dear friends who support me on this journey and to the many teachers and leaders who have paved the way for me and others who are on this path of living, learning and loving.

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Woa ~ Pure Excitement

A little boy’s pure excitement, a dash of astonishment with a tinge of fear… ahhh, the emotional smorgasbord that accompanies making contact with something new and unknown.

Thanks Thomas for this link and for the contagious awe that it’s left me with… and hopefully you too!

~ ~ ~ ~

And after posting this I saw that this is my 600th post here at Easily Amazed… and today also happens to be the 6th birthday of Easily Amazed. Woa! Wow!

All I can feel is that little boy saying, “Can I touch it?” with excitement and desire and then feeling his fear of what is it? and answering his own question with “no!”

That’s very similar to my journey of writing here. So often I feel the strong impulse to share something deep from my heart or right at the edges of my thinking. I bubble with excitement at the challenge to put words to these sensations and thoughts and at the opportunity to share my experiences or perceptions with others. And then when the publishing time comes I will often feel a hesitation and What am I doing? Can I really share this? Does this make any sense? Unlike the little boy, I do touch it. I press publish and a little part of me grows just a wee bit more as a result of putting myself out there!

Thank you, Easily Amazed, for giving me the opportunity to open into this world of writing. Thank you soooo much to everyone out there who reads this. Your presence has been significant and influential in my development… I sincerely mean that. The comments I’ve received over the years, the conversations with people who read this webl, the inspiration that provokes many of the postings, and all my curiosity about those that are here reading but have never let me know that you are… it’s a fascinating and wonderful experience to feel the life that circulates around this website!!

And special thank you to Thomas who has been an emotional, intellectual and super-special editorial support these last few years. Seriously, I ask him to read over so much of what I write and he’s so gracious about giving me helpful feedback. Thank you!

Happy Birthday Easily Amazed… Woa… Wow!!

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All Swirled Into One

To be honest, I am often fascinated by my experience of being alive. As in, easily amazed! So I guess this time right now of living in the process of so many major life transitions is no exception. And yet, it’s definitely new for me. I wish I could easily put words to the nuances and extreme spectrum of feelings and experiences I’m having. I can’t do it easily, but I will give it a try!

As a whole, I feel like I’m living many different lives all swirled into one. They blur in and out of each other, overlapping, building upon, disappearing and re-emerging. It’s an exhilarating party of experiences. The old joining with the new, familiar and unfamiliar, light and dark… it’s very exciting.

And then at other times all the parts don’t feel like one life at all. They become compartmentalized. For a moment I’ll only be able to feel one thread. Intellectually I know that the others are still there, but a feeling of anxiety will narrow my perception.

It feels like a dance between harmony and chaos. In the frames of chaos, while they feel aggravating and invasive, I get to see the specifics of that particular thread that is holding me down or confining me. Like a mirror that has shattered into many fragments. I get to rest in one shard and notice the details of what it looks and feels like. What is being reflected back to me? I learn its uniqueness. And during the melodic phases it all spins together, the colors blending, creating a new beauty that is birthed from all the connections.

In my heart and body, this all plays out through a huge spectrum of emotions that I feel, that catch me, control me, tickle me and invite me to pay attention. Sometimes the pace at which I swing from one end of the feeling spectrum to the other is fascinating. I’ll fly in open-ended freedom sparkling with possibility, promise and potential. Confidence glowing through me. Excitement adding pep to my step. Joy twinkling out the corner of my eye and life wrapping me in an inner smile.

And then suddenly that openness is abruptly punctuated with a barreling thud of doubt and anxiety. Mischievously those contracting emotions creep into my skin and bones, throbbing through my heart and thoughts in unexpected moments. They burrow into my eye brows, yank at my heart, tug me down, spin me into confusion, agitation, uhggg, huh?, and not quite right. A shot of insecurity is injected into my blood stream. Without knowing it, I begin to take myself, my life, my experiences oh-so SERIOUSLY!! (and fortunately, even when all of this is going on, there is a steady constant of content. Of trust. Of knowing that it’s all just right.) And yet… I’m feeling the effects of taking myself so-very seriously!!

and then…
ack-a-lacka- splack
spiff, pooof, a wac wac

{shake, shake, shake, shake}

My love for life comes funneling back

The journey feels a bit like an amusement park. Riding the rides, roller coasters flying up and down, tumbling this way and that. Pure joy and passion is the ground where I stand and yet underneath there is an intermittent thrum of fear that surfaces, mumbling rhythms of ‘you’re not doing it right’… Continuously inviting me to slow down. Notice what’s happening. Accept. Love what-is. Rest in stillness. And before I know it, I’ve moved onto the next ride!

I was on a walk one morning after a particularly emotionally/energetically active and aggressive day. I had this feeling that I was disintegrating. I could feel the spaciousness in my body and cells. An airiness. Pieces breaking apart and disappearing, a field of emptiness present within me… as me. A peaceful calm. I felt how clearly the only thing that mattered was the step that I was taking. And the next step. And the next breath. Exactly what I was supposed to do was to take in, really savor, each moment and the environment around me and inside of me.

I then had the realization that I had no typical identity handles to hold onto. I don’t have the habits of being that generally help to shape my identity. In that moment I had no job or profession. No significant other. No home that was my own (I’m ‘boarding’ in another family’s house). No active community that I was tightly woven into. None of those typical outwardly obvious things that one might generally define themself by. I had me. I had life. And this step. And the next, and the next.

This recognition helped me open deeper into a breath of rest. Here it is. I’m living in the unknown. There is little habit or familiarity hinting at what might come in the next moment for me. There aren’t the usuals to predict or inform. And yet… there really still are. And here I am. Living what-is. Learning to love what-is in new ways. Continuously being reminded to be gentle with myself and to be patient.

That’s a sliver of my inner world.

Many photos are from my Flavors of Life album
Swinging in the Sky by McMorr
Roller Coaster Thrill by Carlos Lorenzo
Path – Should I follow? by Azzazello

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Celebrating Life

My soul is glowing with recognition, opening wide in awe and wonder and resting in familiarity as I experience Autumn emerging in the mountains of Appalachia. The leaves are changing with their bright life bursting forth, one last powerful hurrah before they let loose, releasing into the heart of winter. It’s such an honor to be here for this process. It invites in me to celebrate the exuberance of life and the beauty of change!

(ooh, the photos seem to lose their punchy color in these images. They are a bit better when you click on them… and if I played with them, they’d be even better… another time!)

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Writing, Writing She’s Everywhere!!

Hello Easily Amazed Friends,

I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately in this intricate inter-net, inner-net world. Here’s a run down of where you can find more pieces of me, in case you’re interested!!

I’ve started an email newsletter. It is predominantly about social and emotional well-being for children, adults and groups. However, it’s Ashley-style so hopefully a balanced mix of practical information and practices along with opportunities to sink into the concepts and creatively imagine what might be possible. The newsletter began last month. You can read the first issue here. And the second issue that went out today here. If you like what you read, sign yourself up so that future editions are delivered to your very own email inbox!

This is a new website where I have agreed to be a guest writer. Here are some inspiring words from it’s founder, Yaffa Maritz, that will make it perfectly clear to you why I’ve agreed to participate.

“Imagine a world where people treat each other with compassion and differences are embraced. Curiosity, kindness, and creativity guide us and a fine balance is achieved between a healthy sense of individual self and thriving communities. This is not a utopia. Research already shows us that it can be achieved one kid at a time.

However, it requires what we are building here together; a thoughtful and intentional community of parents who will support each other through learning and growing and by engaging in mindful discussion, sharing relevant resources, and having discussions with professionals. Together it will create a momentum for a kinder and gentler presence in this precious world!”

I’ve been slowly updating my website, hopefully making it more expressive of both the heart and soul of who I am and the specific details of what I do. I probably should wait until I’m happy with all of the pages to point your eyes to it, but I’m not going to. Here it is! I’ve updated my bio. If you read it and have some feedback, please send it my way. Still to come is a more comprehensive explanation of Social Emotional Consulting. I also hope to update the Life Coaching and Family Coaching pages because with each client I work with, I learn more about the potency and potential that comes alive when we are in these kinds of relationships, working together to learn and grow. You can peek back at those in a couple of months!

Thomas is constantly playing with words and discovering all kinds of treasures that exist in words we look at all of the time. One of his favorites is repeating the word earth or heart over and over again. earthearthearthearthearthearth
Earth, heart, hearth, hear the art, ear all show up. I wanted a bumper sticker with this sentiment to put on my car as I journey through life. (I get that driving my car across country doesn’t exactly support this sentiment) We created a sticker and you too can buy one if you’d like at our Cafe Press store. Perhaps you can adhere yours without leaving little bubbles as I did (as seen in the picture!).

I think that’s it for new adventures. In case you weren’t aware, I also have a couple of other blogs that I don’t update nearly as frequently.

This one is completely geared towards relating with children, parents and educators.

This site is a compilation of different people sharing rituals they do to support healthy living. They’ve written about activities or behaviors they do regularly for the purpose of bringing value to their well-being. It only gets updated when someone shares a new ritual. Do you have one to add to the site? It could be anything.

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A Bright Welcome to This New Year

“Release painful patterns through embrace and not through struggle. We open our hearts to ourselves, each other and to the Universal Presence in which we are sustained. On the brink of this new year, we awaken to renewed choice. We seek the thoughts, images, feelings and actions that will more clearly reflect the Loving and Peaceful Heart always at the center of our being.”
~ Bet Alef High Holy Day Prayer Book

Last night began the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. This marks the beginning of a new year and according to the Jewish calendar it is the year 5770. Rabbi Ted Falcon pointed out that this is a one-year (add the numbers up until you get to a single digit). A one-year symbolizes the beginning. We are at the beginning of a new cycle right now. What kind of a cycle do we want to create in our lives, in our communities, on this planet? What impact might we have if we actively take responsibility for how we grow into this New Year? Wouldn’t it be amazing if as Rabbi Ted said, this could be the “big one year” in which we realize our oneness?

And so I ask myself: What thoughts, images, feelings and actions do I want to live this year? How will I more clearly reflect the loving and peaceful heart always at the center of my being? How will I more clearly see and reflect the loving and peaceful heart always at the center of your being? Of our collective being? What does it feel like for me to open my heart more fully to myself, others and the source that sustains me and us? This year, I will discover new ways to wake up, recognize and live the fullness of who I am, the depth of my yearnings, the bright vision and sense of possibility that I see.

“This is a year that needs you to be you.”
~ Rabbi Ted Falcon

These are the questions I will be resting in today and for the next 9 days until Yom Kippur – meditating, listening, setting intentions, singing, dancing and dreaming what’s possible into being. I will follow Rabbi Ted’s instructions that it is my job right now to dream the biggest dreams and see visions as large as I can. I will do this for the sake of being an active servant to life, nourishing love, peace, healing, and wholeness in the world. This year the universe needs me to be me. Rabbi Ted invites us to ask ourselves,

“What am I being called to bring to this time?”

I think about Chris Corrigan’s recent post about intention… Now is a time to cultivate action that is rooted in intention and to keep asking, “What is my life dedicated to?”

If any of these questions spark something in your heart, please listen and follow that spark!! And if you’d like to share what emerges, I’d love to hear.

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